Pro se means that you are representing yourself in court, without a lawyer. Another term is self-represented litigant. If you represent yourself in a family matter, the court will ask you to attend a Pro Se Education Program. The program helps you understand court procedures and the forms you need to file with the court. Classes are free and open to the public.
A judge may engage in extrajudicial activities, including law-related pursuits and civic, charitable, educational, religious, social, financial, fiduciary, and governmental activities, and may speak, write, lecture, and teach on both law-related and nonlegal subjects. However, a judge should not participate in extrajudicial activities that detract from the dignity of the judge’s office, interfere with the performance of the judge’s official duties, reflect adversely on the judge’s impartiality, lead to frequent disqualification, or violate the limitations set forth below.
The required briefs, memoranda of law, motions, and pleadings are governed by rules that can be difficult for untrained individuals to comply with.6 Courts sometimes sanction unrepresented litigants who are ignorant of the law or become too emotional in the courtroom for not complying with court rules or for frivolous litigation.7 For these reasons and others, a litigant without an attorney is much more likely to fail than one who is represented.8

DISCLOSURE: NOTICE OF Copyright © 2019  FRAUD STOPPERS, FRAUD STOPPERS PMA. Disclaimer: Any information or answers are provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create PMA-Member relationship. THIS SITE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE MISCONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. Legal Information is NOT Legal Advice: This site provides “information” that is only designed to help users safely cope with their own general legal needs. Legal information is NOT the same as legal advice — the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. FRAUD STOPPERS is a National Private Members Association (PMA). PLEASE TAKE NOTICE OF THE FOLLOWING MARS Disclosure[s] 12 C.F.R. 1015.: (1) FRAUD STOPPERS PMA is NOT Affiliated with any Government Agency or Any Bank Lender; (2) Even if YOU Accept any of  FRAUD STOPPERS PMA Products or Services Your Lender May Choose to NOT Change Your Loan.  FRAUD STOPPERS products and services are only available to Active Members of the FRAUD STOPPERS PRIVATE MEMBERS ASSOCIATION. To join FRAUD STOPPERS PMA click here: https://www.fraudstoppers.org/members-only/

Defendants who choose to appear pro se may do so because they believe they may gain tactical advantages against the prosecutor, such as obtaining sympathy from the jury, the opportunity to personally address the jury and witnesses. Pro se appearances may also delay the trial proceedings and enhance the possibility of a mistrial and a subsequent appeal.[49]


Pro se litigants have been steadily increasing over the past decade. The right of an individual to represent his/her own cause has long been legally permissible, dating back to the birth of our nation and signed into law by our first president, George Washington. (Laws do exist, however, barring certain types of individual representation in order to protect the parties involved.)
When relations are mediated by money, the pendulum between trust and mistrust can swing very rapidly. The confidence-man’s final tricks focus on the ethics of lending. In one scheme, the cosmopolitan, going by the over-the-top name of Frank Goodman, befriends a bit of a dim bulb named Charlie, and the two toast to the glory of friendship. After several pages of warmth, praise of geniality and companionship, the cosmopolitan lets Charlie in on a secret.
17See Self-Represented Litigation Network, “Model Code of Judicial Conduct Provisions on Self-Represented Litigation: Options for Alternative Comment Language Prepared in Support of Potential State Activity in Response to 2012 Resolution 2 of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators” (Williamsburg, Va.: National Center for State Courts, 2013).

Reflecting on an important personal value in a self-affirmation exercise has been shown to have a broad range of beneficial effects across over 225 published studies (for reviews, see Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Cohen and Sherman, 2014). For example, a brief self-affirmation of an important personal value, such as writing about why you value friends and family, has been shown to buffer many different threats to the self, such as reducing rumination in response to failure feedback (Koole et al., 1999), lowering stress reactivity to social evaluation (Creswell et al., 2005, 2013), and in mitigating the effects of stereotype threat on academic performance in classroom settings (Cohen et al., 2006; Miyake et al., 2010). Despite this large body of work, the mechanisms of self-affirmation are not well specified, and currently two theoretical perspectives have been offered to explain how self-affirmation exerts its effects. A longstanding theoretical perspective posits that self-affirmation boosts one’s self-image for coping with self-threats (Sherman and Cohen, 2006). Although some studies provide support for this self-resources account (e.g., increasing self-esteem and self-regulatory strength; Schmeichel and Vohs, 2009; Sherman and Hartson, 2011), empirical support for this mechanistic explanation has been limited (Sherman and Cohen, 2006; Crocker et al., 2008). In contrast, a more recent theoretical perspective offers that self-affirmation enables one to transcend self-image concerns by increasing other-directed feelings (Crocker et al., 2008). In one influential study, Crocker et al. (2008) showed that affirmed participants reported greater feelings of love and connection, and that these feelings statistically explained how self-affirmation reduced defensiveness to a threatening health message.

Canon 4F. The appropriateness of accepting extrajudicial assignments must be assessed in light of the demands on judicial resources and the need to protect the courts from involvement in matters that may prove to be controversial. Judges should not accept governmental appointments that could interfere with the effectiveness and independence of the judiciary, interfere with the performance of the judge’s judicial responsibilities, or tend to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.
Unlike in the criminal context, there’s no federal constitutional right to counsel in civil cases. Civil cases can involve a range of critical issues, including housing, public benefits, child custody and domestic violence. And while some civil litigants may be entitled to counsel in certain jurisdictions, in most of these cases, people who cannot afford a lawyer will be forced to go it alone. Doing so may mean that they fail to make it through the process, have their case dismissed or lose what otherwise would have been a winning case.
This surprisingly easy hack is one that can be done anytime, anywhere--and is rarely done enough. People underestimate the power of an erect spine or a rigid stance. Carrying yourself like you are proud to be who you are indirectly gives your brain feedback that you are indeed a lovely human, so that you subsequently positive feelings about yourself. Who knew the body could be such a powerful tool?
We believe that the most important contribution this work makes is in relating the two leading theoretical perspectives on the mechanisms of self-affirmation, offering one account for how the self-resources and self-transcendence perspectives may be linked, via self-compassion. Overall, our results suggest a process through which self-affirmation may mobilize self-resources (specifically, self-compassion), which in turn allow for self-transcendence (and pro-social focus on others).
(6) A judge should not make public comment on the merits of a matter pending or impending in any court. A judge should require similar restraint by court personnel subject to the judge’s direction and control. The prohibition on public comment on the merits does not extend to public statements made in the course of the judge’s official duties, to explanations of court procedures, or to scholarly presentations made for purposes of legal education.

We often talk to parents about whether to file for child custody pro se, a legal term also known as 'self-representation.' In general, we recommend that parents proceed with caution when it comes to filing for child custody or child support pro se. The following questions and tips can help you determine the best course of action related to your case.


Courts across the country are increasing the resources available to the surge of pro se litigants attempting to navigate the judicial system. Courts are not only addressing the legal and procedural obstacles facing pro se litigants, but they are also focusing on “sociological [and] psychological aspects of how unrepresented litigants feel about the overall litigation experience.” Id. at 3. Likewise, attorneys, and civil trial lawyers in particular, must be cautious of the challenges and special considerations involving pro se litigants.
One limitation of Study 1 is that we did not use a validated measure of state self-compassion, but constructed a composite measure of compassionate feelings using theoretically consistent items available from the administered affect checklist. It is possible that our composite self-compassion measure in Study 1 indexes other constructs besides self-compassion. To address this limitation, we conducted Study 2 to test whether self-affirmation increases self-compassion using a validated behavioral measure of self-compassionate feelings in response to a storytelling task (Leary et al., 2007). Moreover, a limitation of our Study 1 findings, like previous studies (Crocker et al., 2008), is that an alternative compassion explanation can be offered – specifically, it is unclear whether the increase in compassionate feelings in Study 1 are directed toward the self (consistent with our self-compassion account) or toward others (or toward both the self and others). Study 2 directly tests this self vs. other-focused compassion account of self-affirmation by manipulating whether participants provide ratings of their compassionate feelings toward their own storytelling video (self) or to the video of a peer (other). Study 2 also provided an opportunity to extend our self-compassion account by testing the role of trait self-compassion in moderating self-affirmation effects (we did not include a trait self-compassion individual difference measure in Study 1, a study limitation). Specifically, participants in Study 2 completed a measure of trait self-compassion (Neff, 2003b; Raes et al., 2011) to test whether self-affirmation effects on self-compassion are moderated by trait self-compassion, such that self-affirmation increases self-compassionate feelings most in participants who have pre-existing low levels of trait self-compassion.
With 90 percent of Americans facing potential lawsuits at least once in their lives, being prepared can mean the difference between winning and losing. Pick up a copy of “How to Represent Yourself in Court—Winning Big without a Lawyer” and let Gary Zeidwig show you how to best prepare yourself in the event you find yourself in court fighting for your rights. Don’t wait until a lawsuit presents itself. By then, it might be too late.
Melville asks if we should have faith in the natural order of things when that order is constantly shifting and being replaced. The confidence-man offers platitudes and certainties to assure his marks that there are fixed values and then uses that faith to pull the ground out from under them. It’s interesting that in an authorial digression preemptively defending the book from imagined hordes of detractors Melville asserts the value of inconsistency. “No writer has produced such inconsistent characters as nature herself has,” he writes; if nature can bring forth duck-billed beavers, perhaps the novelist should be granted “duck-billed characters.”
To directly measure helping behavior, we designed a surprise shelf-collapse incident in the lab. Specifically, the experimenter instructed the participant to complete some questionnaires (another affect scale and the demographics measure) while she set up for another participant in an adjacent room. A non-bracketed shelf containing paper clips, pens, and alcohol swabs hung on the door to the experimental room (about 3 m from the seated participant), such that when the experimenter exited the room and closed the door, this shelf (and its contents) crashed to the ground. The experimenter (blind to subject condition) observed participants’ reactions using an unobtrusive video camera, and scored participants’ helping behavior on a 9-point Likert Scale (scale anchors: 0 = provided no help at any time, 4 = participant informs experimenter of incident upon experimenter’s return and then helps experimenter pick up items, 8 = immediate helping with fallen items), with higher scores indicating more helping behavior. All participants noticed the shelf-collapse.
If the novelist is part of this same trade, a con man in his own right, he deserves that same mix of trust and mistrust. He’s out on the road making deals, looking for specimens to exhibit. There he goes, transforming experience into remarkable distilled concoctions of truth. Look at this amazing, original character, calls the novelist, see the skill with which something of human character is revealed. Step right up, enjoy the show. The novelist is in this same spot between the general and the particular, offering a meaningful, personal connection through a product of which, if the vagaries of the publishing industry are favorable, vast numbers of copies are made. In The Confidence-Man, Melville’s showing off his showmanship, letting you know he’s bluffing. And that’s the only way you know to trust him.
Other voices in the citizenry must join with the judiciary to ensure that adequate funding is available to provide lawyers to the indigent and to develop mechanisms to make lawyers affordable to moderate income individuals. Lack of action will devastate the justice system. That will leave the rule of law in ruins, shattering the foundation of American democracy. Any other course will diminish the respect and moral standing the United States has enjoyed as a leader of democratic governments.
Service: “Service” is a fancy-schmancy legal term that means “officially delivering legal documents.” Some pleadings (e.g., complaints, subpoenas, and more) need to be served personally—meaning someone (other than you) has to personally hand them to the recipient. If personal service is required, you may need to pay a process server, sheriff, or marshal to serve those documents.

Taking part in a recent ribbon cutting in Brooklyn are, from left, Lynn Kelly, executive director of the City Bar Justice Center; Debra L. Raskin, New York City Bar Association president; Chief Judge Carol B. Amon, Eastern District of New York; Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom; and Nancy Rosenbloom, director of the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project. 
Pitting pro se litigants against lawyers as if lawyers are enemies does far more disservice to your clients. I looked at your website, and I see that you toe a fine line between practicing without a license and simply giving pro se litigants enough rope to hang themselves. I understand that it’s a gimmick to make money for yourselves, but the nobler thing to do would be to direct these people to pro bono services instead of guiding them to shooting themselves in the foot by acting like the opposing party’s lawyer is out to get them and that what they don’t understand about the practice of law is somehow a trick or deception.
(6) A judge should not make public comment on the merits of a matter pending or impending in any court. A judge should require similar restraint by court personnel subject to the judge’s direction and control. The prohibition on public comment on the merits does not extend to public statements made in the course of the judge’s official duties, to explanations of court procedures, or to scholarly presentations made for purposes of legal education.

Within the boundaries of applicable law (see, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 953) a judge may express opposition to the persecution of lawyers and judges anywhere in the world if the judge has ascertained, after reasonable inquiry, that the persecution is occasioned by conflict between the professional responsibilities of the persecuted judge or lawyer and the policies or practices of the relevant government.


(2) A judge may serve as an officer, director, active partner, manager, advisor, or employee of a business only if the business is closely held and controlled by members of the judge’s family. For this purpose, “members of the judge’s family” means persons related to the judge or the judge’s spouse within the third degree of relationship as defined in Canon 3C(3)(a), any other relative with whom the judge or the judge’s spouse maintains a close familial relationship, and the spouse of any of the foregoing.
Judges also support greatly increased funding for lawyers in civil cases for litigants who cannot afford representation out of self-interest. Most local and state judges are elected or appointed to serve for a specified term, to which they may be either reelected or reappointed.21 They are periodically evaluated by the public or the appointing authority. Judges perceived as showing partiality – for example, by providing permitted assistance to unrepresented litigants – may lose elections or reappointments. Judges’ careers can be marred by complaints from unrepresented litigants who, because they do not have the benefit of legal advice, have unreasonable expectations about courts and law.22 The presence of lawyers on both sides of a case insulates judges from perceptions of impartiality and from litigant complaints.
The BIGGEST mistake pro se litigants make is thinking they know more than they do, as a way of overcompensating for lack of confidence. False bravado can lead you into mistakes #2, #3, and #4 on this list and a whole lot more. You don’t bring a court reporter because you don’t feel you need one. You don’t do research because you don’t have time, and you think you know enough. You react to or challenge every lawyer trick because you believe, without any evidence, that it’s the best thing to do. You talk about admiralty law, not because you know anything about it or where it fits into your case, but because you heard someone talk about it. You file the wrong motions in the wrong situations. It’s important to know what you don’t know and act accordingly. Instead of talking about sovereign citizenship, talk about and use civil procedure. Rather than reacting to lawyer antics, judicial bias or a sense of unfairness, focus on your case. Learn it backwards and forwards, and then bring your court reporter. That’s how you win. See Sovereign Citizens Make Pro Se Litigants Look Silly for more about the “problem” with sovereign citizens.
This can be a humbling and learning experience.  Sometimes, despite our convictions or our research, there will be times we will miss or misinterpret the point and be wrong.  Thinking law and litigation is a mixture of morality, common sense and fairness is a common source of this experience.  Morality, common sense and fairness may be elements in the drafting of laws, but the implementation of law may not favor morality, common sense or fairness as these terms are generally defined.
(H) Compensation, Reimbursement, and Financial Reporting. A judge may accept compensation and reimbursement of expenses for the law-related and extrajudicial activities permitted by this Code if the source of the payments does not give the appearance of influencing the judge in the judge’s judicial duties or otherwise give the appearance of impropriety, subject to the following restrictions:
Taking part in a recent ribbon cutting in Brooklyn are, from left, Lynn Kelly, executive director of the City Bar Justice Center; Debra L. Raskin, New York City Bar Association president; Chief Judge Carol B. Amon, Eastern District of New York; Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom; and Nancy Rosenbloom, director of the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project. 

Later, when time comes to my response, like a bipolar, I keep jumping from Magician to Conqueror and then crave badly to be act like an aggressor. I end up changing my response over and over and over again, until I get the Aggressor out of my system. Then I do my best to mix Magician—common sense—approach to reach a Conqueror-level response document.
Oftentimes, self-represented litigants become reactive when there’s a lawyer on the other side. Instead of getting ahead of things or running their own case, they let the lawyer take the lead. They spend so much time responding to discovery requests, summary judgment motions, motions to dismiss, and other filings that they don’t formulate a strategy of their own. They don’t do their own discovery or object to certain requests because they’re swamped and often intimidated. So, they’re always behind and in a constant reactive state. If a wise opponent sees how reactive you are, they can walk you right into an error. So, take control of your case. Never let a lawyer think that he’s in charge of it.
×